Settling the Score: Mamba, Melo and The King.

Word on the street is that Carmelo Anthony not only wishes to be traded from the Denver Nuggets, but it would seem that the star forward already has a clear list of teams that he wishes to secure his talents. Given the fact that the Nuggets are getting older as a team and that Anthony is probably worried about George Karl’s availability to coach the team (let’s be honest, that team had no direction without Karl), I can understand why he would want out of Denver. But there’s something peculiar about his request to be dealt. Scottie Pippen touched on it in a radio interview when he mentioned that the Bulls should not part with Joakim Noah in a trade for Carmelo Anthony because it seemed as though Melo might potentially be a problem case. Perhaps Pippen was merely speaking as an outsider looking in, but he still does offer a valid point and I shared the sentiment to some extent prior to Pippen making the statement. As previously mentioned, the former Syracuse star has apparently already submitted a wish list of teams he would agree to join (because he is in the last year of his contract, it would be wise for the team trading for him to get assurances that he will want to sign an extension there). Here is the list of teams in order of preference: New York, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey. Anything stand out to you?

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but why is there only one Western Conference team listed in his wish list? Let’s analyze his possible choices.

New York
In the event that the Knicks managed to secure the former Orangeman in a trade with the Nuggets, one has to wonder what pieces New York would have to give away to make this transaction happen. Assuming that the Knicks pulled off an incredible coup and brought Melo to the Big Apple, the team’s core would probably be Ray Felton, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. That’s obviously a team that would put up a lot of points given head coach Mike D’Antoni, but the Knicks lack of commitment to defense lead me to believe that the team would be a fifth or sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Mind you, the Knicks could have other moves they pull off to help bolster their line up and make them possibly a top three team out East.

Arguably the best landing spot for Carmelo Anthony. The Bulls would obviously do anything and everything in their power to keep Joakim Noah in Chicago, but in the event that Noah were to be part of a package deal that brought Melo to the Windy City, they would still be a quite formidable team. Their core would revolve around Officer Rick Rose (Derrick Rose), Carlos Boozer and Carmelo Anthony. Given the fact that the Bulls have a young roster, this team would be among the best in the NBA for years to come.

The fascination with the Rockets makes total sense: Yao Ming returns from injury to take back his spot as the team’s franchise player, the team has a gifted scoring point guard in the name of Aaron Brooks, a solid shooting and efficient shooting guard in Kevin Martin (assuming he isn’t part of the deal that brings Anthony to Houston) and a top shelf defender in Shane Battier. In addition, the Rockets are the only team in the Western Conference that have given the Lakers a scare in the last two years. So naturally, I could see why Carmelo might want to join the Rockets.

 New Jersey
Apparently the best deal the Nuggets have received so far centers around Derrick Favors and the expiring contracts of Troy Murphy and Kris Humphries coupled with a future first round pick. Here’s where it gets interesting though; it would seem that Carmelo Anthony is actually open to playing in New Jersey with these players:
-Devin Harris
-Travis Outlaw
-Anthony Morrow
-Jordan Farmar
-Johan Petro
-Brook Lopez
-Terrence Williams
-Joe Smith
-Damion James
-Stephen Graham
-Quinton Ross
-Ben Uzoh
-Brian Zoubek

Given the fact that this Nets team won 12 games last year, why would Anthony want to play with this squad of players? That’s like leaving the set of Inglorious Basterds to instead be part of the movie The Last Airbender. So I must ask myself two questions:

I. Does Carmelo Anthony not feel like he can compete with Kobe’s Lakers?
I’m shocked that Dallas, Portland and Sacramento haven’t made the list of potential destinations that Anthony would agree to be traded to. All three teams have talented rosters with players to complement his game.
Portland: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby.
Sacramento: Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert.
Dallas: Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.

Given the fact that Portland and Dallas have talented rosters with a good group of veterans, I’m somewhat surprised that these teams were not mentioned as teams worth considering. As it pertains to the Kings, although they are a young and upcoming team, I could see them growing and eventually becoming a legit contender should Anthony agree to a trade with them. Given his preference to go out East, I must ask myself if Melo feels as though the Lakers cannot be beat out west. Or perhaps….

II. Does Melo want the King’s head?
It’s a perfectly legitimate question. After defeating LeBron James and his St. Vincent-St Mary’s squad in his senior year in high school, then winning a national championship in his freshman year at Syracuse; all anyone wanted to talk about was King James’ ascension as a high school player and that he was going to be the #1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Hell, even after Anthony got his Denver Nuggets to the playoffs his rookie season, he watched the NBA crown James as the NBA Rookie of the Year. So could Melo be looking to take on LBJ to settle a personal score? There’s really no way to find out but we have to assume that it irks Anthony that he is not placed on the same pedestal as James. The only way for that to change, would be to beat him. And wouldn’t coming out east help facilitate the task?

With that said, regardless of where Carmelo Anthony ends up, his new team will be happy to have him and it should make for some interesting basketball. But you better believe that in the back of his mind, he wants to take down the Mamba and the King…


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